By Maricel V. Cruz
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Tuesday said the House of Representatives is committed to pass measures to empower local government units (LGUs) to make them effective participants in national development.
He made the assurance in remarks during the 31st national convention and election of officers of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines (PBMLP) at the Manila Hotel.
Pampanga 3rd District Provincial Board Member Ananias Canlas Jr. is the league’s national president.
“Be assured that your House of Representatives recognizes the indispensable role local governments play in national development, and is taking steps to ensure that these institutions are adequately enabled so that they can discharge their responsibilities more effectively,” Romualdez told PBMLP members.
He enumerated several LGU empowerment proposals the House is considering, including Bill 2400, which aims to strengthen local autonomy through a more rationalized system of decentralization, and Bills 790 and 1089, which seek to increase LGUs’ share from national taxes.
The other measures are Bill 111, to promote village empowerment so that local governments can be more effective in pursuing inclusive growth through budget reforms that shall distribute funds between national and local governments equitably; Bill 426, to establish environment and natural resources management offices in all provinces, cities and municipalities; and Bill 493, to authorize local governments to establish adequate primary care networks in support of Republic Act 11223, or the Universal Health Care Act.
“These are but some of the measures currently pending at your House of Representatives seeking to empower local governments,” the Speaker said.
He also stressed the importance of cooperation among LGUs such as provinces, and urged the PBMLP to continue serving as the venue for interprovincial collaboration.
“I encourage the incoming officers to build on the victories of the previous leadership and continue blazing the trail of inter-provincial cooperation towards development,” he said, before congratulating the incoming officers of the league.
“Believe me when I say that with unity of spirit, there is really much we can do. If there is one hard lesson we would do well to learn from the pandemic, it is this: cooperation is imperative,” he said.
“We have seen with increasing frequency how the problems we face today do not recognize arbitrary territorial boundaries. And the best way to address these problems is through collaborative action,” the House leader added.
Romualdez pointed out that it was teamwork among LGUs that he and Representatives Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre of party-list group Tingog Sinirangan had envisioned when they filed Bill No. 5.
The proposed law, which the House has passed on third and final reading, calls for an integrated onsite, in-city, near-city, or off-city resettlement program for thousands of informal settler families.
“We put forward the proposal as a better approach to the traditional way informal settlers are relocated. We observed that the relocation sites do not provide employment opportunities and livelihood as well as social services, which force those resettled to go back to areas they were originally occupying illegally,” he said.
He said the bill seeks to institutionalize inclusive growth and require prior consultation with stakeholders when off-city relocation is the only option.
It also provides that social preparation activities be undertaken prior actual relocation.
“While cooperation may be mandated by law, it is more sustainable if this is accomplished with the willing participation of all stakeholders. This is why I support the continuance of the PBMLP. Let the PBMLP be the platform for cooperative undertakings at the level of all Sangguniang Panlalawigan across the country,” the Speaker said.